Brazil, England and France Favorites Ahead of Quarter Finals

The largest British audience for a live sporting event since the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics watched England's dramatic penalty shootout with Colombia as Gareth Southgate's team reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2006. In total, six Colombia players were booked to England's two. If he does, however, it provides Luis Suarez far more space to operate. "Like I say, it is coming home".

For all the drama around England, the victor of the tournament is more likely to come from the top half of the draw, where the teams can boast a combined eight tournament wins.

Earlier on Friday, France and Uruguay open the quarter finals when the face each other in Nizhny Novgorod at 10 a.m. ET.

England's own head coach Gareth Southgate missed a crucial penalty in Euro 1996, having only ever taken one before in his professional career (that too a miss).

The truth is though that caution would be best advised for England, whose competitive record against Sweden doesn't make for inspiring reading if you're an English fan (one win in the last eight non-friendly encounters).


Though Kane and Marcus Rashford successfully converted England's first two penalties, when Jordan Henderson saw the Three Lions' third spot-kick saved by Colombia and Arsenal keeper David Ospina, the omens looked bleak.

Imparting belief is an inexact science, but Southgate made clear much lay in deep preparation and in dispelling ghosts. Check out the brand new daily JOE World Cup Minipod hosted by Dion Fanning, Paddy McKenna and Carl Kinsella featuring LIFELONG ENGLAND FAN Noz Choudry.

Gareth Southgate and his men have been lauded as heroes in Russian Federation and back home and the way they've conducted themselves so far in the tournament has earned them high praise.

This cold-blooded perspective is harder to maintain during a penalty shootout. Sweden has played one also, in 1958, at home, against Brazil and a 17-year-old Pele, who scored twice that day and who by now is 77 and tweeting congratulations to the French wunderkind Kylian Mbappe for his two knockout-game goals against Argentina. Walker suffered cramp, while Young left the game with an ankle injury in extra time.

Argentina flirted with disaster in the group stage and although hopes were high that they could improve after beating Nigeria in the group stage, it was not to be.

  • Steve Townsend